On Thursday, Sept. 14, a federal hearing lasted six hours as the plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction to halt Risk Rating 2.0 while the lawsuit plays out.
Meanwhile, FEMA is hoping the judge will throw the suit out altogether.
Several parish presidents, from Terrebonne to St. Tammany parishes, packed the courtroom as some testified that their constituents cannot afford the policy rates that come along with FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0.
“It kills the economy of Terrebonne Parish and all parishes,” Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove said. “And remember this—to think this is an administrative move. This isn’t congressionally mandated. All FEMA has to do is drop this.”
Evidence submitted to Judge Darrel Papillion by the plaintiffs included a letter from FEMA, stating if a municipality doesn’t participate in Risk Rating 2.0, the community will be suspended from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.
“If we don’t comply with NFIP, we get dropped as an NFIP community, and your ability for anybody to get a mortgage in a special flood hazard area becomes jeopardized,” St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell explained. “Or, you stay in the NFIP, and these rates just continue to go up and up and up.”
Risk Rating 2.0 eliminated grandfathering, which allowed someone to maintain their rate based off how their house was mapped originally.
“What we’d like to see is that the people who were grandfathered in originally and who have been ejected or pulled up to full risk premiums have their grandfathered rights put back in,” Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill said. “So, if they could reinstate those grandfathered-in rates, that would be great. If we could freeze any further increases, that would be great.”
Attorneys for FEMA, who declined an interview, argued most policy holders saw minimal increases because of Risk Rating 2.0 and that it’s necessary because the NFIP is running at a deficit.
Judge Papillion said he will issue an opinion promptly.
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